Hike unveils software that works without active data

by BLOOMBERG

BANGALOREWhatsApp rival Hike of India is introducing a version of Android that lets users message, make payments and access information without an active data connection, seeking to offer services to people who aren’t yet able to access the Internet.

The modified mobile software, called Total, will be available on four devices starting March, Hike said in a statement yesterday. People will be able to message, access news, purchase bus tickets, get cricket scores, pay bills and recharge data allowances through a single login. Total uses technology that communicates with networks in a different way than standard wireless networks. Access can be purchased in one-rupee (six sen) increments.

Hike, backed by SoftBank Group Corp and Tencent Holdings Ltd, is betting that it can connect more of India’s one-billion plus citizens to mobile services by offering much cheaper ways of access wireless networks. Almost 736 million Indians don’t have mobile network connections, Hike said. The company has more than 100 million users and was valued at US$1.4 billion (RM5.54 billion) in its latest fundraising.

“India has 400 million smartphone users but barely half of them are active Internet users, and we want to close the gap for the bottom of pyramid users by helping them come online to a very, very simple Internet,” Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike, said in an interview. “We are doing something radical to make the Internet less daunting and complicated for these users.” — Bloomberg